Skip La Cour is a five-time NPC Team Universe champion, including two overall victories. The following are his 10 strategies for taking control of your eating. Whether your goal is to win a bodybuilding contest or just to lose some bodyfat for a leaner, healthier appearance, these insights will help you get there.
1) Burn more calories than you eat. That’s the basic rule of weight management. If you want to lose weight, you must burn more calories than you take in each day, each week and each month. It doesn’t matter if all the food you eat is healthy, wholesome or ‘clean.’ The total calories from all the food you eat’no matter what kind of food it is’must add up to fewer calories than your body efficiently burns each day. Unfortunately, you can’t just stop eating and expect to lose bodyfat and you can’t just start eating like crazy in order to build muscle. If you want to gain quality weight, you must eat strategically.
2) Take the necessary steps to control your metabolism. Another key to effective weight management is regulating your metabolism. No matter what your physical challenges, you can do a better job of managing and regulating your metabolism. You must do the best with the gifts’and the challenges’you’re presented with.
Eating small meals throughout the day will help keep your metabolism operating at a steady rate. You should schedule meals every two to three hours throughout the entire day. Of course, weight training and cardiovascular training will also help regulate your metabolism.
By following through with strategically timed small meals, weight training workouts and cardiovascular sessions for a series of days, weeks and months, you’ll improve your body over time.
3) Stop searching for the perfect diet. People are often distracted by the idea that there’s an easier diet somewhere that requires less discipline than the one they’re on. If the diet doesn’t work as quickly or effectively as they expect, they blame the diet’and not their standards or expectations.
Diets appeal to different people for different reasons besides their level of effectiveness. The Atkins diet, for example, may seem great to some people because they love to eat meat. The Zone diet may seem ideal to others because they love salads and vegetables. Even a strict, bland bodybuilding diet may appear to be the best option to some people because they like not having to make decisions on a continual basis or because they really enjoy the taste of meal replacements (like AST Sports Science’s Ny-Tro PRO 40).
4) Keep your diet simple. Do you know people who always ask themselves, ‘What am I going to eat for dinner tonight?’ Some people put a lot of effort into thinking about their meals. In my opinion, that makes the eating process far too complicated. The more complicated you make your nutritional program, the more difficult it will be to follow through.
During the week I intentionally keep my meals plain and simple. My main purpose in eating during that time is to grow muscle and keep my bodyfat levels manageable. If I decide to relax at all, it will be during the weekends.
When it comes to feeding yourself properly, the less thinking and planning you have to do, the better. Try to look at eating as merely a method of building quality muscle, fueling great workouts and keeping your body lean and looking good, instead of as a source of recreation, pleasure and a way of connecting with your family and friends.
I realize that fine dining is one of life’s great pleasures, but try adjusting your thinking to that of an efficient muscle-building eater as much as possible. Simple meals will help you stay consistent with your eating habits. ALL 5) Give the diet you’ve chosen your full attention. Just about any diet, when implemented on a consistent basis, will work for you, but you must have confidence in the one you choose. Otherwise, you won’t be able to give it your complete focus.
With all the diets available, it’s easy to get confused’and almost impossible to have 100 percent certainty about the diet you’ve chosen. Just when you think you’re on the right path, you’ll hear or read about a new ‘miracle’ diet. Just when you’re ready to dig in and get going on a structured eating program, someone you know will tell you about all the amazing results he’s had with a diet that seems very different from yours. Heck, even if your diet is working, you’ll sometimes doubt if it’s working well or fast enough.
Instead of focusing on the differences, try to discover how the diets are similar. That way you’ll know you’re already on the right track. 6) Take 100 percent responsibility for your success and failure. In other words, if you’re not getting the results you want, it’s you and not necessarily your diet that’s letting you down. It’s not your challenging situation, genetic limitations or time-management dilemmas that are preventing you from reaching your goals. Your inability to do what it takes’or find out what it takes’is what must be overcome.
People often blame their circumstances or genetic conditions for their lack of progress. If you are truly committed, you’ll eventually find a way around any of your physical or emotional challenges to reach for your goals.
People also sometimes unfairly compare themselves to others. ‘She can eat anything she wants and still look good, while I eat like a bird and gain weight!’ The route you have to take may not seem as easy as that of someone else, but there is indeed a way to overcome your challenges.
Realize that the decisions you make reflect the quality of the physique you really want’and the one you get. Everything worth having has some sort of price tag on it. Usually, the more desirable something is, the higher the price. Maybe you don’t want to pay the price for having the physique you thought you wanted. That’s fine, but you must accept the consequences of that decision. Don’t blame your lack of knowledge; blame your lack of desire. Don’t blame your genetics or personal conditions; blame the fact that you decided not to overcome those challenges at this time.
7) If you’re not getting the results you want, you’ll need to raise your standards. You either need to do a little more of this or a little less of that. Food selection, food quantities, meal frequency, meal timing, cardiovascular-training intensity and frequency, weight-training intensity and frequency are all factors that are 100 percent in your control. Focus on finding the combination of those factors that works best for you: what you must do more of and what you must do less of to reach your body goals.
It’s your body, and no one will ever care about it more than you. Never rely on anyone else to solve your challenges for you. Take full responsibility for the task of finding what’s best for you and your body.
8) Don’t waste time talking to people about your eating, metabolic and genetic challenges. Are those others really going to challenge your beliefs anyway? Do they really care? All the talk about how difficult it is for you to lose bodyfat (or build muscle) reinforces your disempowering beliefs about what you can and cannot accomplish. By cutting out the negative talk, you reach your goals that much faster.
9) Learn how to manage the emotional relationship you have with your current eating habits. Schedule your cheat meals in advance, and schedule your cheat days’those days when you plan to indulge in delicious, not-so-healthful meals’in advance as well. Use those cheat meals or cheat days as special rewards for being disciplined all week long or putting together a series of weeks of good eating habits. Don’t use food as a reward for accomplishments in other areas of your life, however. You don’t want to create or strengthen an emotional link between success and fattening food. You also don’t want to use delicious, not-so-healthful food to mask emotional pain that you might be feeling due to challenges in other areas of your life. In other words, don’t eat to make yourself feel better.
10) Never try to make up for poor eating habits with more exercise. Up to 80 percent of the way you look will be determined by the way you feed your body’not by your training habits. You may mistakenly believe that you can make up for poor eating with a little extra exercise; however, the exchange rate between eating and exercise is not a fair exchange at all!
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